Every employer in the UK has health and safety responsibilities as do many other organizations, in particular those which allow the public onto premises which they manage. This means that there are numerous opportunities for those wishing to make a career in this area. There does, however, seem to be some confusion about how to get the proverbial foot in the door, so here are some tips.
Short courses provide an accessible entry point into the field of health and safety
For those just cutting their teeth in this area, short courses on the core aspects of health and safety will provide a solid foundation for future development and the fact that health and safety is such a key part of the world of work means that the skills you learn are likely to be attractive to future employers even if you decide to change your career track.
This is also a good time to look for volunteering opportunities where you could use your knowledge of health and safety and possibly develop it further. Alternatively, if there are no opportunities near you, you could look at volunteering with St John Ambulance/St Andrews Ambulance to gain First Aid experience as this is both relevant to health and safety roles and also very much appreciated in general.
Advanced qualifications lead to professional accreditation
Once you are sure that health and safety is indeed the career choice for you, then it becomes important to gain the appropriate industry-specific qualifications. The starting point for this is the National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health National General Certificate, more commonly known as the NEBOSH General Certificate.
This is essentially the springboard into entry-level jobs which are largely or totally dedicated to health and safety. Since taking this course is essentially making a commitment to a career in health and safety, at least for the foreseeable future, this would also be a good point to join The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health, generally known as IOSH. All new members are accepted as affiliates, but holders of the NEBOSH General Certificate, who have five years on-the-job experience can move forward two grades to Technical Member. This is a major selling point when it comes to applying for jobs.
Moving to the next level
While the NEBOSH General Certificate provides an entry point to health and safety positions, those wishing to progress to more senior roles will benefit from more advanced qualifications to go along with the experience they gain at work. In practical terms this means the NEBOSH Diploma and/or an NVQ Level 5 Diploma.
The NEBOSH Diploma is granted on the basis of academic study and exams. Although it has traditionally been taken in a classroom environment, it is now available through distance learning and so can be combined with work. Having said that, this would be quite a commitment, which some people might find too onerous.
The NVQ Level 5 Diploma is a work-based assessment scheme and hence may be easier to fit in around work commitments, however while it is recognized by IOSH, it may be seen as less valuable by future employers since it is very much focussed on the individual and their performance in their organization. It’s also worth noting that The NVQ Level 5 Diploma is not a route for those who wish to avoid exams since converting it into Charter Membership of IOSH (a huge advantage or even necessity for more senior roles) requires taking an exam, albeit an open-book one.
Author Bio –
Image To Suit You are a health and safety clothing specialist, based in North London.